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It would be impossible for a single author to produce a book of this description with a fair prospect of success, because it necessarily treats of many subjects; and a perfect acquaintance with some of the more important would occupy a lifetime. The reading and researches of one man would not be sufficiently extensive to embrace the rich variety of the materials required. Being fully convinced of this fact, the Publishers have endeavoured to obtain the aid of the most distinguished writers in the various departments of knowledge which the following pages are intended to illustrate. Thus each contributor, in furnishing his quota of information for the work, has been engaged in a congenial task, one best suited to his peculiar turn of mind, as well as to his individual acquirements, and one upon which he could, therefore, with the greatest ease and accuracy dilate. This brief explanation will show in what spirit the Publishers embarked in the undertaking; and the accompanying list of the writers may be received as a proof that they have succeeded in securing the services of the most competent authorities. With that portion of the book with which he was practically acquainted each of the following gentlemen has dealt: W. Martin, Esq., C. Baker, Esq., R. B. Wormald, Esq., J. F. Wood, Esq., A. McLaren, Esq., Stonehenge, author of “Rural Sports,” and the Rev. J. G. Wood, author of several works on Natural History, who also furnished some of the designs. The remaining illustrations are by William Harvey and Harrison Weir; and the credit for the able manner in which they have been engraved is due to the brothers Dalziel.

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